Neighbors

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you.

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I feel powerless over so much in the world.

People kill each other. People kill themselves. People die of disease, of starvation. People get lost. People get taken. There is so much of the world that I am powerless to touch, or to help, or to heal. The interconnectedness of the world places many of the world’s ills in my view and there is nothing that I can do about most of it. And sometimes that powerlessness paralyzes me.

Do you ever feel powerless?

Good people take care of the people around them. I want to be a good person. But in the face of such overwhelming despair, how do I accomplish that? I can’t reach half-way across the globe and change the state of the Middle-East or solve world hunger.

But what if that is not really my responsibility. In my mind, I have a concept that would work spectacularly well if implemented properly and that would expand exponentially. What if I am only responsible for helping the people that I come in contact with? What if I just focused each day on helping the people I encounter? Just them. What if I stopped agonizing over the people on the other side of the world and only focused on the cashier at Walmart, or the guy walking his dog, or the person sitting next to me at the library?

I used to think of power as a single force that was binary in nature. Either you possess it or you don’t. Now I think that power is a snowflake in a blizzard or a droplet in the ocean or ants in a colony. It is thousands of small and simple things all pushing in the same direction toward the same goal.

Imagine if everyone did that. What if everyone focused every day on lifting the people around them? Imagine the love that would pour over the earth as that tidal wave of service moved from person to person across the globe.

That is the power that I want to have. That is the power that I want to be a part of even if I am only one snowflake or one droplet because that power will change the world.

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up or you just don’t know or care. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you. So during this season when some of us will be celebrating Christ, and some Christmas, and some other Holy Days, and some just enjoying family, make an extra effort to lift your neighbor. They are not hard to find, they are all around you.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

NOTE: If you need some ideas on ways to serve, go to Light the World (Mormon.org). Full disclosure this link will take you to a religious website, but it also has really good ideas for nice things that you can do to be good to others, so if you don’t like the religious stuff on there, ignore it and just steal the good ideas. 😉

Fearless

What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear?

Little children are the best teachers in the world. They don’t know rules. I’m not saying that they don’t know what the rules are, I’m saying they don’t know that rules are even a thing. So they just do stuff. They do what they want whenever they want. And it is this näive hedonism that I want to talk about today.

There are hard and fast rules in the world. There are. I didn’t make them up, but you have to live by them or face the consequences. Rules like never put something on the floor for a pregnant woman to pick up, and only wear double denim when you want to look amazing. Just kidding. But really there are rules. Learning them is really important. I’m not going to list them all here, that’s not really my point here. There are also a ton of rules that people just made up, and life seems to be the intersect of trying to abide by the real ones and ferret out and ignore the fake ones.

This is where children are the best teachers. They push other children down out of anger or greed and we tell them no. We teach them the rules that you don’t hurt others because they make you angry and that you don’t hurt others because they have something you want. We teach them to avoid what is wrong, but they teach us about embracing what is right.

They teach us about unconditional love, about forgiveness, about trying new things without fear or embarrassment or shame. What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear? What would your life be like?

Maybe we should find out.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Still

I am afraid to be still, because in the stillness I feel fear, I feel despair, I feel inadequate, I feel exposed, I feel alone.

NB. I talk about God in this one, y’all.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

Be still.

I don’t know when I became afraid of silence. I used to be able to curl up with a good book, or The Good Books and read for hours, immersing myself in other worlds with only my own inner voice for company. I used to be able to sit and think about life, about the world, about God.

I don’t know when it started, but I am afraid to be alone with myself – with my thoughts. I haven’t read a book in . . . months? I speed through my daily prayers and daily scripture study as fast as possible. When I am alone, there is always something on in the background: television, or music. I am afraid to be still, because in the stillness I feel fear, I feel despair, I feel inadequate, I feel exposed, I feel alone.

I’m afraid that the memory of everything that has happened in the last six months will catch up to me and like a tidal wave crash over me and pull me out to sea. I can’t survive against that undertow.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

I used to think that this scripture meant, “stop complaining, stop worrying, I am God. I have this covered.” But lately I have begun to wonder if it doesn’t mean, “I am found in the stillness. That is how you can really come to know who I AM.” What if my fear of stillness is keeping me from really coming to know Him?

Know that I am God.

I already know that He is God. I have not seen Him, but I feel that He is there. He answers my prayers. But I think that I sometimes forget that He is GOD.

In the stillness, the tidal wave of fear may crash over me and drag me out to sea. In the stillness, I may not be able to fight the undertow, but He is God. He walks on water. He calms tempests. He can pull me back to shore.

In the stillness, I may not be able to fight the feelings of despair about the turn my life has taken as the despair threatens to swallow me whole, but He is God. He saved Jonah from the belly of the whale that swallowed him. He will give me hope and save me from despair.

In the stillness, I may feel inadequate but he is God. He can take a few fishes and a few loaves of bread and feed an army. He will strengthen my weaknesses.

In the stillness, I may feel exposed, but He is God. He strengthens the arms of shepherd boys to slay giants. He parts seas. He will protect me.

In the stillness, I may feel isolated and alone, but He is God. He understands better than anyone isolation and loneliness. He will comfort me.

We have so many things demanding our attention and that makes it is easy to fill our lives so full that we never have to face ourselves in the stillness. But by doing so, we will not know Him. He is found in the stillness. We just have to have the faith to be still through the fear, and the inadequacy, and the loneliness in order to find Him. And when He pulls us back to shore and gives us hope and strengthens our weaknesses and protects us and comforts us, then we will truly know that He is God.